Is a clutch a brake?

Just had my first stick driving lesson (#57 on the list).  We started off with K driving and me “listening to the engine” as he changed gears.  He said I need to make sure I have my foot on the clutch when I change gears and I asked, “Is the clutch the brake?”  He looked at me with a mixture of amazement and horror and said, “Are you serious?”

Unfortunately, I was.  The knowledge that there are three pedals blew my mind.  I mistakenly thought that driving a stick was the same as an automatic with the exception of the tricky gear changer.  For not the first (and I’m sure not the last) time in my life, I wondered, how did I get to the age of 24 without knowing this?  I was still suspicious about the number of pedals until I got in the driver’s seat and saw it with my own eyes.  You have to use your left foot at the same time as your right foot?!  Good gravy, what have I gotten myself into.

We should have done this.

We should have done this.

After about an hour or so of practicing (i.e., bunny hopping and stalling) in a semi-empty parking lot, we decided I should give it a go on some streets near K’s house where there isn’t much traffic.

My face while driving.

My face while driving.

What Kurt was probably thinking.

What K was probably thinking.

I went around the block once but then decided that was enough for one day (probably to K’s relief!)  When I got out of the car, my knees were shaking.  But I also felt invigorated.  K says that I am off to a good start.

I am also making progress on #39 (write a fiction book) and #45 (complete the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge).  I started working on #39 today and it feels great to be writing for fun again.

I am over halfway through on my week one book for #45.  I chose to read “Death Comes to Pemberley” by P. D. James.  This was a Christmas present from my parents…two years ago.  This thing called grad school consumed my life the past year so I didn’t have time (or make time, perhaps) for fiction reading.  I am really happy to be getting back into it, though.  A couple times this morning while reading, I laughed out loud and then had to read K the passage aloud.

My heart has finally stopped racing after my driving lesson.  😉  It ended up being a lot more nerve-racking than I thought it would be!  But it was exciting as well.  I’m glad that I had such a great teacher.  K was very patient and calm the whole time (while I freaked out).  Does anyone have any funny stories about learning to drive a stick?  I’d love to hear them.

-A

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4 thoughts on “Is a clutch a brake?

  1. I learned to drive at 15. The driving school car was automatic and our home vehicle was a stick. I was terrified of driving…I felt the power of it as a weapon weighing thousands of pounds. I thought I’d kill someone and had to be so so so careful. My first time driving, I thought I was going so fast down this residential road. My teacher asked me to speed up a bit. I looked down and saw that I was going 10 miles per hour. Ha ha. That’s not my problem anymore.

    Anyway, to my stick story…well one of them. I was driving with my dad and stopped at a 4-way stop. I was first to go and the car kept dying. The first time it happened, I put the car in first gear and it stalled again. Then I just tried to go again and it stalled. Again. And again. The other cars started going through the intersection since I couldn’t get my car moving. There were several cars lined up behind me and soon they started going around me. It was terrible. I was crying and asking my dad to trade places with me and just get me out of the intersection. He wouldn’t do it and patiently asked me again if the car was in first gear. I checked. Nope. It was in 3rd. I couldn’t believe it. I’d been wrong the first time I checked and had trusted myself even though the car kept dying.

    Now whenever the car stalls, the first thing I do is check first gear. Even if I “know” what gear it’s in.

    Best wishes to you as you learn this new skill. I have a family now and unfortunately in the US large vehicles are all automatic…I’d love to drive a stick again. I like the control and precision of it and feeling one with the vehicle.

    • Bridget, I love the story! 🙂 I think it’s great that your dad had you stay in the driver’s seat until you figured it out (although I’m sure it was pretty awful at the time). Thank you for sharing!

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